P O W E L L, W y o. - Photographer J.L. Wooden's newest wildlife images go on display Saturday, June 28, at Open Range Images in Cody. The 4-8 p.m. opening reception for his exhibit is scheduled as part of the annual Art Walk sponsored by First National Bank and Trust of Cody.
Wooden is known to many area residents through his images of faraway places. In between his classroom duties as a faculty member at Northwest College in Powell, the award-winning photographer travels the world, bringing back pieces of the places he visits as photographs. Thanks to Wooden, Big Horn Basin residents have seen lions roaming across the Serengeti and glimpsed into the tomb of China's first emperor with its 8,000 life-size sculptured terra cotta soldiers and horses, along with numerous other sites.
This past winter he stayed closer to his Wapiti home to photograph regional wildlife. Even though the buffalo, elk and birds of prey seen in his newest work are familiar to area residents, the setting might not be - most of the photos were taken in Yellowstone National Park in winter. While the controversy was raging about whether or not to keep the east gate to Yellowstone open in winter, Wooden was busy photographing the wildlife just inside the gate while it was still an option.
The results are images many park visitors don't see - buffalo sheeted with snow and bull elk fighting for supremacy. One of the photos of an eagle in flight is the same one that goes on display two days earlier in Cheyenne as part of the eighth annual Governor's Art Exhibit at the Wyoming State Museum.
Wooden's work has been exhibited in museums in three countries, can be found in the private collections of celebrities like Joe Walsh, Olivia Newton-John and Kris Kristoffersen, and featured on a Jimmy Messina album cover (of Loggins and Messina fame). In the 1980s he was asked to photograph then President Reagan and earned accolades for his "As Seen By Both Sides: American and Vietnamese Artists Look at the War" exhibit, which hung in offices in Washington, D.C., and toured the United States for two and a half years.
Wooden is probably best known for capturing lightning on film. After working with world renowned lightning physicist Leon Salanave, he became one of the nation's leading experts on lightning photography and published a two-volume thesis on the subject.
His next exhibit, sponsored by Elizabeth Arden cosmetics, opens July 15 at the New Museum Gallery in New York City. In it he shares the artist's spotlight with his wife, Catherine.
Wooden's Yellowstone photos hang in Open Range Images through the end of August. Located at 1201 Sheridan Ave. in Cody, the gallery is open from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. Admission is free.